Category Archives: tutorial

DIY All Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe

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Part of my zero waste initiative of 2015 has been to start making my own toiletries and beauty products. For the most part, I use recipes I find online, but sometimes I tweak and alter them until I have something that fits my tastes. This is one of those recipes. I’ve been trying out a few different combinations of ingredients to get a lipstick like texture. So far I haven’t found it, but this recipe makes a great tinted balm that leaves a good amount of color on your lips.



I started by searching for vintage lipstick tubes. I didn’t want to spend time and money making all-natural products just to store them in plastic. Especially when a big part of zero waste is eliminating plastic completely. I browsed several styles on Etsy, and decided on these vintage Revlon tubes from Frugal Resale. They appear to be brass, and since brass commonly had lead in their composition, I picked up a surface lead test from my local hardware store. They were negative, which means, hooray, lead free! I scraped out the remnants and boiled the containers for a few minutes to clean them. I did have one of the labels fall off, so I’ll be gluing it back on. I’m particularly fond of that “Touch of Genius” shade 😉


Many online recipes call for specialty ingredients you have to order online. Since my goal is to hopefully one day source all the ingredients locally, if not completely from my homestead, I tried to find some more basic supplies. Most of this can be found at your local grocery or health foods store. In fact, I ground up dried hibiscus leaves from my HEB bulk section (it was with the spices), and peeled, sliced, and dehydrated and then ground fresh beets into a powder.

grinding-hibiscus-flowersOne tip that I found handy with my hibiscus powder was to strain it through a fine mesh sieve. In this case it was a tea strainer. This keeps the larger clumps and flower parts from getting into your coloring powder, keeping the shade a bit more even. Still, hibiscus is a bit more finicky than the beet root. In the stick, it’s hard to tell a difference.


Beet root is on the left, hibiscus on the right. I had a bit of clumping there since I waited just a touch too long to start mixing it up and pouring it into the tube. Here is the beet root balm (it appears a bit darker in real life):


And below is the hibiscus (also a bit darker and slightly more even):


You can see the graininess that the hibiscus can have. It’s less noticeable in person, and you can rub your lips together and work most of it in. I would also say that while the beet root gives the better color, I like the flavor and texture of the hibiscus more.

Now enough hemming and hawing, let’s get to the recipe!

DIY All Natural Tinted Lip Balm Recipe

DIY Wood Couch Sleeves from Scraps: A How-To

couch sleeve organizer

I think anyone with small children or a home full of animals can attest that furniture always pays the price. My poor couch has seen much better days. We adopted a second kitten this summer, and he likes to hop up on the couch by the armrest. Which meant tiny little tears in the “pleather”. For some reason it was like a magnet for my baby, who ended up tearing off huge chunks of the fabric all over the armrest. It’s so patchy now, and looks horrible.



To hide the damage as well as prevent more, I decided to try out using up some wood scraps from the Chunky X Dining Table and make a wood sleeve to fit over the armrest. I’ve seen these go for upwards of 70 dollars, but this one was free, and can be built for about $25 with new lumber. I decided to make mine with “pockets” to corral remotes, wipes, coasters, and my e-reader. It’s so handy to have that all available now! Plus it’s a great spot for a snack and a drink. The good thing is that it’s already prevented further damage, so perhaps I can keep up the illusion that the couch is mostly undamaged. Just don’t look at the cushions. Like, at all. Thanks 😉

These supplies are based on my couch arm dimensions, which is roughly 11″ wide. If you have a thinner arm, replace the 1×12 with a thinner board, like a 1×10 or 1×8, or even smaller. If you have a 1×8 or below for the main components, be sure to also size down the 1×8 outer board that makes up the “pocket” portion of the sleeve.


Chunky X Base Table: A How-To

chunky x table tutorial

There’s something about 4×4 lumber that makes furniture look amazing. Maybe it’s the sturdiness, maybe it’s the shape. Whatever it is, I love it! A friend of mine recently asked me to build her a new dining table, and I was happy to oblige. She liked the X-Base Pedestal table I built my sister, but wanted a rectangular shape with a heftier top. So I edited the plans a bit to make two straight bases with a stretcher, and used some posts around planked 1×12’s for a beautiful, solid table. It’s certainly heavy enough to last a lifetime!


The base uses the same measurements from Ana’s plan. I decided to use 2×6’s for the top and bottom to make it even more sturdy looking.


Another nice change this time was splurging on pretty hardware. I used 5″ lag bolts instead of screws, and it really does lend the table a professional feel.


The top was quick and easy to put together. I just have three 1×12’s planked together with kreg pocket holes, and used the same pocket holes to attach the posts. Then a few more carriage bolts on the sides help keep the posts together.


This is such a gorgeous set, and may be one I have to re-create for my own dining room! I was happy to build for a friend, and love that it will have a good life in its new home.

You may want to construct the table top and the legs, then move the table into place before connecting the legs to the top. This table will be large and heavy.

Here is the tutorial to build your own Chunky X Base Table:


  • 3 – 2x6x8′
  • 5 – 4x4x8′
  • 3 – 1x12x8′
  • 1 – 2x4x8′
  • 2 – 1x3x8′


  • 44 – 1/4″ x 5″ lag bolts
  • Box of 1 ¼” pocket screws
  • Box of 2½” wood screws (to assemble bases)
  • Wood glue


  • Drill
  • Miter Saw
  • Kreg Jig
  • Drill Bits

Cut List:

  • 4 – 2×6 @ 30″ cut at a 30 degree angle (top and bottom of table leg bases)
  • 2 – 2×6 @ 30″ cut at normal 90 degrees (spacers for on top of table leg bases)
  • 4 – 2×6 @ 6″ cut at a 45 degree angle (feet)
  • 8 – 4×4 @ 13″ cut at a 45 degree angle (cross bracing for the X shape)
  • 2 – 4×4 @ 21 ¼” (center upright support of the table legs)
  • 3 – 1×12 @73″ (table top)
  • 3 – 1×3 @ 34.5″(cut this after your 1×12’s are attached to be sure of measurement)
  • 2 – 4×4 @ 80″ (long border pieces for table top)
  • 2 – 4×4 @ 34.5″ (cut this after your 1×12’s are attached to be sure of measurement)
  • 1 – 4×4 @ 61″ (stretcher to connect table legs. Cut after legs and table top are built later in instructions).


Important Note: I highly recommend pre-drilling all holes before driving lag bolts or screws. Choose drill bits that are slightly smaller than your screws and lag bolts. This will prevent the wood from splitting.

Lay the 1×12’s on a flat surface.

Connect three  1” x 12” x 73” with several pocket screws as roughly shown below.

Add additional pocket screws along the perimeter of this table top surface for connecting to the 4×4 border lumber. Similar to the photo above (but with only three planks.)

Cut two 4×4’s to the same width as your 1×12’s now that they are joined. The measurement should be close to 34 ½”. Cut your three 1×3 cross pieces to the same width.

Drive two carriage bolts through the corners of the 4″ x 4″ x 80″ lumber into the two 4x4s you just cut. Then secure the three 1×3 cross pieces (using wood glue and/or the 1 ¼” screws) you just cut to the underside of the 1″ x 12″ boards. Space them evenly for the best support, but leave space on the outer edges of your table top for connecting the legs later.

Note: These following photos show assembly of the bench legs, not the table sides. The sides of the table are build similar to these bench legs. The construction is the same, but the main difference is the bench legs are 17¼” tall and the table legs will be are 28 ¼” tall. You’ll also note that the lumber on the benches are made of 2×4’s instead of 4×4’s and 2×6’s.

Use four 2 ½” wood screws driven through the 2″ x 6″ x 30″ top and bottom pieces to connect to the 4″ x 4″ x 21 ¼” upright support.

Attach the 4″ x 4″ x 13″ angled pieces to the top and bottom 2″ x 6″s and the upright supports using lag bolts (two into the top and bottom of each 4″ x 4″ angled into the 2″ x 6″ pieces.)

Attach the 2″ x 6″ x 6″ feet to the bottom of the table legs with four 2 ½” wood screws on each foot.

Repeat for the other table legs. Your table legs should look like this:

Use2 ½” wood screws to attach the 2×6 @ 30″ spacers to the underside of the table top where the legs will eventually attach. (This will elevate the table top so you can see all of the table leg as shown when the table top is secured.)

Measure the inside dimension of the table top from one spacer to the other. Cut the last 4×4 to this length (should be approximately 62″.) Attach the two table legs to the 4″ x 4″ x 62″ stretcher and two lag bolts through each leg and into the stretcher as shown below.

Add the table top and secure the legs to the spacers with 2 ½” wood screws through each leg top into the spacer.

And your table is built!

Time to build the legs. I apologize that Brooke didn’t write the leg post. To build the benches, you can suffer through measuring the pieces to try to fit them together. Or you could build Shanty 2 Chic’s X farmhouse benches which are in the same style.


Toddler Sized Animal Stools: A How-To

Fox and Bunny Toddler Animal Stools


Are you ready for a crazy adorable, super cute project today? I hope so! Last week I saw an image online that inspired me to make some sweet little stools for Charlie. They’re just her size, and just so darn cute. And again, the best part? They’re made from REAL wood! Scrap wood! The kind you have hanging around your garage so you can build these little suckers for free. But, if you don’t have wood just lounging around your home like I do, you can easily make two stools for less than $10 and 30 minutes. Including painting.



I didn’t include a pattern, because the charm is in the imperfections. The “template” for this project is so that you can customize it any way you like. I chose to make a bunny and a fox, but you could easily use those round ears for a dog, the pointed ones for a cat, maybe even get a little crazy and try out some antlers for a deer? Or rounder ones for a squirrel. Or bear. You get the picture. Change up the shape of the ears and get decorative with the paint and you’ve got an endless array of possibilities ahead of you!


animal stools

As you can see, you’ll need to keep the ears large (each about

Faux Southwestern Stained Glass Transom Window

After I found the perfect screen door for my kitchen pantry, I had to solve the problem of the 11″ gap above the top of the door to the top of the opening. I decided on a transom window. Ideally I’d have loved to also have found the perfect stained glass transom, but I know better than to push my luck. So I built a quick frame from cedar 1×2’s and nailed it into place above the door. Next up was to figure out the stained glass part.

Now for a permanent solution, I want to commission a local artist to make three panes that will fit in the window. But before I go to all that expense and time, I wanted to make sure I liked the look of what I saw inside my head. So I looked around the internet for a few faux stained glass tutorials, and adapted the methods to use the tools and supplies I had on hand. Here’s what I did:


Saltbox Chicken Coop, Run, and Planter

Keeping chickens has recently benefitted from a huge resurgence. It’s not just a farm thing anymore, many people are choosing to raise chickens for eggs and meat in urban and suburban areas too. Recently I was browsing a major retailer’s website for furniture ideas and saw a beautifully designed coop, run and planter, all-in-one! But with retail prices above $1600 before shipping, it’s not a feasible cost for many. So we decided to put our spin on the idea and build it ourselves! This is the perfect coop for an urban space. At only five feet by five feet, it has a small impact on available space. It’s also lightweight enough to move around the yard so you can fertilize different sections and not risk yard burnout. However you could only support about 2-4 chickens at a time if you keep them penned, but if you allow them yard access you could keep a larger flock. We plan on starting small and allowing them out during the day so long as our dogs leave them alone, but if they don’t we can build a larger run off the gated side should we like to keep more hens.

The inspiration for the coop design comes from the classic Saltbox houses of New England. I spent my childhood in Massachusetts and now the style brings back very fond memories. It’s a very easy shape to build too! About 75% of the “upstairs” consists of the coop, with a small section for a planter box. Over the weekend I set in some pickling cucumber seeds, and will be tacking on some chicken wire to the side once they sprout for a green wall trellis. It’s going to be so pretty!

The front of the coop features an open gate for access as well as ventilation. We also included two dowels for roosting.

As for nest access, the roof hinges to allow you to easily harvest the eggs.

We used scraps from the siding and roof to partition off the boxes.

I’m so excited to start seeing some green in the planter, and of course pick up some hens! First I need to whip up a quick ladder from a spare picket so they can get from the run into the coop.

Now for the tutorial. I’ll warn you, it’s one of my more complicated ones. I did my best to take detailed photos and note my cuts, but it may get a bit confusing. Feel free to leave me any questions in the comments or email me. Here we go!

Supply List:

Slim 6 Cube Bookcase: A How-To

A friend of mine is expecting her first baby next month, and I asked her if she needed any furniture for the nursery. She asked for an Expedit style bookcase, very slim lined and white. She sent over the dimensions of the space, and I got to work!

I started with a sheet of Purebond, and had them rip it down into 15″ strips. Then I made my cuts, drilled a few pocket holes, and had this sucker built in no time.

At first I was sad to paint over the beautiful birch grain, but the white is a nice choice. There’s more than enough space for baskets and storage, and it’s a great height to take a seat! Plus with cost of materials under $60, this is a bargain considering its made from chemical free, hardwood plywood farmed here in America. Only the best for baby! Want to know how to make your own? Here’s how I did it:


Reclaimed Wood Industrial Vanity

When we were brainstorming ideas for our master bathroom vanity, I wanted something a little out of the ordinary. Wish so much storage in our double medicine cabinet, we didn’t need a lot of concealed space for all the junk that usually gets tossed into a bathroom cabinet. In fact, that was one thing that bugged me the most in our last bathroom. We just had piles of stuff we couldn’t really reach, and no space for towels! So I came up with a simple idea for open storage that wouldn’t break the bank. The pipe materials cost $100, and we had the tongue-and-groove 2×6 boards in my dad’s barn, just screaming to get used! There’s a lot of space here too. At 72″ long and 26″ wide, the top has ample room to spread out toiletries and hair dryers and all that sort of thing. And at 31″ tall with two extra shelves, I plan to pack in our towels along with a basket or two for hair tools.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how we did it:


Double Medicine Cabinet: A How-To

Woah, lots of how-to posts all in a row! I hope you’re not getting spoiled 😉 I’m finally getting around to finishing up some of these bathroom projects. Let me start by saying, this vanity is NOT finished. It’s maybe 60% done. So please don’t judge my medicine cabinet by my vanity 😉

Step 1: remove the tall faucets! Other than totally blocking the cabinets from opening, they also seem to think they are fountains, not faucets. Water is gushing out of the top handle instead of the spout! And as they were freebies from my plumber FIL, I chose to just buy new short ones. I’m also planning on staining it a gray-ish color so the wood tones don’t match so much. I’d like the focus to pull on the mirrors rather than the vanity boards.

See what I mean? Womp womp. I’ll be replacing those faucets this weekend so I can fully appreciate the wonder of these massive mirror cabinets.

This was relatively simple to build and pretty darn affordable! Considering you’d pay a hundred bucks for a much smaller wall unit at the store, you can build this double beauty for around $80. Including the mirrors. I used cedar (again! I know) because that’s what we have lying around and it matches the trim. You could use furring strips or pine boards to stain or paint and get a really nice look. Ready for the tutorial?


Astrological Shade Tutorial & Contest

Our powder room is one of those rooms that just keeps getting put on the back burner. We haven’t even figured out a sink and faucet for it yet, though I do have a couple of light fixtures. In fact one of them is today’s project, a cheap and (relatively) easy astrological shade!

I was invited to participate in a lampshade makeover challenge with I had this brilliant plan in my head to make a shade for the naked pendant in my powder room. I didn’t want to just drill random holes in it, I wanted to add in a subtle touch of sentiment. So I used our astrological signs! If you look closely you’ll see a Leo, a Scorpio and a Capricorn in there.

Oh, and the best part? It’s super cheap! My dad had an extra roll of 10″ flashing lying around, but you can pick up a small roll for about $8 or less. I used a drill press to make my holes, but if you don’t have one you can use a regular drill or an old fashioned hammer and nails 😉 Here’s how I did it:


Simple Striped Self-Binding Quilt: A How-To

Confession: I love quilts. A lot. And I love to make them. The problem? I’m not particularly great at them. I’m still a student when it comes to sewing. Most likely, I always will be! Even though my execution isn’t perfect, I enjoy sharing my methods. So today I have a really fun and easy tutorial for a striped self-binding crib size quilt.

It all started when Hawthorne Fabrics announced their Black Friday sale. They had Amy Butler organic cottons discounted, and I could not resist snatching them up!

Lydia Doll Bed: A How-To

I’ve seen Lydia doll bed props sell on Etsy for hundreds of dollars. But they’re easy to do for cheap if you have a lot of scraps lying around. The only thing I had to buy for this was one stick of trim and four mini spindles. It’s quick to build and is just the right size for American Girl or 18″ dolls so it makes a great gift. I’ve built one before, but this time I made note of my measurements and took process shots so I could provide a tutorial! Read on below to see the process:

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Striped Benches: A How-To

Why hello again! It’s been a few days, huh? This always happens every time we go visit my parents. I get all caught up doing grandma/Charlie time things and completely unplug. You’d think I’d have learned to schedule a few posts in advance, but I got behind on all my projects and just now got around to taking photos of everything. Yikes! Anyway, I’m back now and ready to share all sorts of fun things. First up, a tutorial on how to make these striped benches like the one I made as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. It’s quick and easy and if you skip out on the fancy angles, relatively painless. Ready to see how it’s done? Let’s go!

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Easiest Tshirt Quilt: A How-To

Do you have a stash of tshirts that don’t really fit anymore, but are too threadbare to donate? I’ve had a stack of clothes in my fabric bin for a while, just waiting for a good project to come along. Well after I learned about the whole rag quilting method, I decided to give it a shot on the classic tshirt quilt!

Tshirt quilts are awesome because 1) they’re super soft 2) they’re recycled & 3) they’re pretty much free. I had a good stack of old cotton shirts, tank tops, and sleeping pants. You could also raid some garage sales for cheap supplies. Here’s how I did it:1) Cut all your squares. For my quilt, I cut 2 squares for each block, 7.5″ square. You will also need 1 square of quilt batting for each block. There are a total of 48 blocks, which makes 96 tshirt squares and 48 quilt squares. I cut them all while watching Friends with Benefits. Once they’re cut, make your block: one tshirt square right side down, a quilt block, then another square right side up. They don’t have to match if you don’t want them to!

2) Quilt your blocks. I sewed a straight seam corner to corner in an X shape. It’s easy and keeps the pieces together.

3) Repeat for all squares. My quilt is 6 squares wide and 8 squares long, measuring 40″x55″. That makes it the right size for a child blanket or a lap throw. If you have more shirts, you can make more squares for a larger quilt. This one is perfectly Charlie sized.

4) Sew horizontal strips. I laid out my pattern on the bed, then stacked each row of squares in order so I knew how I wanted to sew them. Make sure you pay attention and sew all the seams facing the same side. I got hasty and had to rip a few out. Just do a 1/2″ straight seam to sew them together.

5) Sew your rows together. Again, make sure you’re putting the exposed seam on the same side as the rest.

6) Press the squares flat and sew a zigzag seam around the edge of the quilt. It acts as a binding and keeps everything flat.

7) Show it off! This project took about 5 hours start to finish, from cutting to “binding”. It’s very easy and simple, definitely a beginner’s project. So don’t be afraid to try out quilting! It shakes up the “traditional” tshirt quilt a little bit too.

The seams won’t fray like cotton or flannel rag quilts. Mostly they’ll stay looking like this. You could also display it from the back.

Now the hard part will be saving up more shirts to make an adult-sized throw! I may have to hit up a Goodwill sometime soon. They’re too easy not to make!

How to Kill Apps on an iPhone

So like the rest of the planet, I’ve gotten into Draw Something. Heard of it? Its a mobile game that’s like Pictionary, and you play with your friends. Here’s my favorite one I’ve done:

It’s my fancy version of gandalf and a Balrog. Nice, eh? Anyway, this new app can be a total drain on your battery life. Not to mention the fact that because it’s so new and insanely popular, it’s a bit buggy and doesn’t always update.

I was blown away when Nurse Friend Sam showed me that you can actually turn your apps off to save battery life and reboot them later. Here’s how you do it:

Double click the home button, so it brings up your list of active apps:

Push and hold onto an app like you would when rearranging them. They start to shake and the “minus” delete button shows up.

Click it like you’re deleting it. This closes the app! Now you can get a few more hours out of your phone, and refresh those apps that are acting buggy. So go Draw Something!! It’s way too fun to miss out on.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Fabric Memory Game: A How-To

Looking for a fun project to do with all those fabric scraps in your closet? What about a memory game for the kiddos?

Now that I’ve got a baby, it seems like I’m always on the lookout for fun projects to do for her. I saw a fabric memory game on Pinterest, and knew I had to make one of my own! It was simple, easy, and fast.Plus it got rid of a lot of my scrap pile!

I used some canvas fabric for the base since it was a dark neutral color. My patterned fabrics really pop against the background, which will be good for younger kids.

They’re very soft, and the clincher? They’re waterproof, and washable. Much more durable than the paper versions!

I started off with 12 pieces, or 6 sets. I have enough fabric cut for 12 more, but ran out of energy to finish today.

I noticed that large patterned fabrics are a bad choice. They’re going to be hard to match. Stripes and dots are much easier. So, ready to make your own? The tutorial is below!
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Free ID Card Holder From Scraps Tuturial

Last month, I finally got off my lazy bum and joined our local gym. It includes childcare, so now I have no excuse not to work out. In an effort to get a little more organized (because 8am mornings with an infant are hectic to say the least) I needed to find an id holder with a lanyard, and it needed to be double sided so both our badges can be easily scanned. So I raided my scraps and whipped one up for free last night. Overall I’d say it’s not too hard for my first effort! I used gallon ziplock bags for the plastic, and some leftover rope trim as my lanyard. Want to see how to make your own? Directions are below!
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Flannel Chevron Rag Quilt

Confession: I hate holidays. Well, scratch that. I hate commercialized holidays. Things like Christmas and Thanksgiving and *cough* Valentine’s Day. The Husbane calls me a grinch because I never decorate; I don’t carve pumpkins or hang garlands or hide eggs. I think it’s the fact that we’re beaten over the head about these days for MONTHS before they happen now, and I just get sick of hearing about it by the time the day rolls around! I’m more of a Memorial Day gal myself. Give me barbecue and the sun and waves over candy any day. BUT! That said, I don’t want to foist my personal convictions on my daughter. So, even though I keep it low-key, I celebrate the days with her. So, she donned a special V-Day-ish shirt, and I made her a pretty flannel blanket!

I went a little nuts at The Quilt Haus in New Braunfels on our last visit to the grandparents and bought a crap ton of fancy-pants designer flannel. It’s the Fresh Picked line from Free Spirit. And oh, is it stunning!

Have you heard of a rag quilt before? It’s probably the easiest quilt to make. You quilt one strip at a time, then sew it all together and clip the seams so they “rag” up.

Easy peasy! Though of course I decided to throw a wrench in things and make it more difficult by using a chevron pattern. Because I’m a glutton for pain.

Here’s a view from behind. Lookin’ good, huh? Well, If you’d like to make your own, here’s how:
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